Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Kinesiology and Health Promotion

First Advisor

Dr. Bradley Fleenor

Second Advisor

Dr. Jody Clasey


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and conventional treatment often emphasizes pharmaceutical approaches. Research has recently started exploring non-pharmaceutical approaches, including nutritional interventions. This research study was conducted to test the effectiveness of a novel nutritional approach, curcumin, on the improvement of cardiovascular health in young, obese males (BMI≥30 kg/m2). This study included 22 men, matched based on BMI and randomly assigned to the intervention (n=11) or placebo group (n=11). The intervention consisted of 12 weeks of curcumin supplementation (1.0 g/day) with fenugreek added to enhance the curcumin bioavailability; the placebo consisted of 12 weeks of equal parts fenugreek to that found in the intervention. To determine cardiovascular improvements, arterial stiffness via gold-standard carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV), endothelial dysfunction via reactive hyperemia index (RHI), and inflammation via plasma cytokine concentrations were measured. There were no overall differences in cfPWV (p=0.428) or RHI (p=0.951) between groups following the 12 weeks of intervention. However, some individuals did respond to the curcumin treatment with reductions in cfPWV, while others did not. Subjects who did respond to the curcumin treatment (n=6) entered the study with higher baseline values of cfPWV than those that did not respond (n=5) (6.81 m/s v. 5.84 m/s, p = 0.045). This suggests a potential role for curcumin to improve arterial stiffness in individuals with stiffer arteries at baseline. A possible mechanism to explain the difference in responsiveness is a trending increase in IL-13 (p=0.052), an anti-inflammatory cytokine that has been associated with amelioration of collagen content in the arteries. Also, 12 weeks of curcumin intervention resulted in reductions in brachial pulse pressure (p<0.05), a surrogate marker of arterial stiffness. This change in brachial pulse pressure in the curcumin group could be explained by an increased trend in anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 (p=0.071), but further studies are required to confirm this finding. Based on the findings of this study, curcumin might serve as a non-pharmaceutical intervention to improve vascular health in young obese men, especially when arteries are stiffer than age-matched counterparts.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)